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Take opportunity to learn some new skills

Although my Facebook friends are stuck at home, it looks like they’re learning new skills.

It’s easy to understand why. As stay-at-home orders continue, we have a little more time on our hands. Rather than go stir-crazy, some of us are using this as an opportunity to explore, experiment and learn.

One friend posted, “When life gives you lemons, you learn to make a lemon meringue pie,” complete with pictures and the recipe she used. If you don’t already know this, the meringue part is a challenge even for skilled bakers.

While the pie looked amazing, it was her comment — the twist on the old lemonade-from-lemons phrase — that caught my eye.

When life gives you something bad (i.e., pandemic), you use it your advantage (i.e., make something better).

It’s like the lyric from Lizzo’s Grammy-winning “Truth Hurts.” She’s dumped by her boyfriend and uses the bad experience to her advantage. She sings, “Fresh photos with the bomb lighting / New man on the Minnesota Vikings.”

Whoa. She’s dating an NFL player? She sings about how her life is much better without the ex. Lemons to lemonade.

One of my friends is learning other types of recipes. He had his own lemony twist on the old saying.

“When life gives you lemonade, you experiment with different combinations,” he posted with pictures of fancy cocktails. He’s a mixologist, but his bar is closed during the pandemic. He’s using this time to test different combinations for a future cocktail menu.

Both friends admitted to help from the Internet.

Like them, if you’ve got a smartphone, it’s never been easier to learn new skills.

Thanks to how-to videos on YouTube, do-it-yourself guides from home improvements stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, and a seemingly endless list of other free educational resources, you can learn just about any new skill.

While you’re at it, try earning a certificate. Search “free online course certificate” in whatever field you want to explore. The results might be surprising, and possibly a little overwhelming.

I’m interested in learning more about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). I set the date search parameters to show me only the best results from the last month. This is because many online learning hubs have been posting new or updated, free courses and other resources every day since the outbreak.

What’s better is that some results take the guesswork out of your search.

For example, last month, Forbes published a list of the best, free, online AI courses. I can pick from an ML crash course with Google, Elements of AI at Helsinki University, CalTech’s intro to ML through edX and several others.

Some lists give important information for making the best selection.

Class Central, a clearinghouse of the best online courses, provides information on start dates, star ratings and delivery platforms (Coursera, edX, Udacity, etc.).

You’ll find overviews, learning outcomes and a syllabus for each course. If you’re concerned about course length (you can usually complete a course in a few weeks), check out the self-paced options.

No matter what you try while you’re stuck at home, don’t hold back and be sure to share your results with the rest of us. Email me at acearnheardt@ysu.edu and let me know what you’re learning.

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